There’s No Need for A Citizenship Question in the Next Census

The announcement last week by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross that the 2020 Census will agree to the Justice Department’s request and add a question about citizenship is wrong on so many levels that it’s hard to track them all.  The Constitutionally-mandated responsibility of the decennial census is to count all residents, regardless of citizenship, and actions that would interfere with doing that as thoroughly as possible undercut that grave responsibility. 

A question about citizenship would discourage participation in the Census and lead to systematic undercounting of residents and an incomplete, biased picture of who lives in the United States. The consequences of such an undercount would be dire, skewing political representation and the allocation of federal funds. The undercount would affect immigrant communities of color in particular. For example, as the First Focus Campaign for Children put it, “For Hispanic children, the problem of being undercounted is exacerbated by a recent decision from the Department of Commerce to add a question on citizenship in the 2020 census. Coupling this announcement with aggressive and cruel immigration enforcement tactics currently being undertaken by the Trump administration, the expectation becomes a dramatically reduced participation rate from immigrant and mixed status families who fear the negative repercussions of revealing their immigration status.”

Advocates for an accurate, complete, and fair Census are used to raising their voices to push for more resources to be devoted to outreach, not to warding off bad, inflammatory proposals. But in reacting swiftly to this misguided and cynical step, they have the facts, the Constitution, and the nonpartisan importance of unbiased data on their side. There is no need for a citizenship question in the decadal Census to enforce the Voting Rights Act, as the Justice Department has claimed. There is great risk in adding an untested question at this late stage, jeopardizing years of preparation. We support the lawsuits being filed by several states and other parties and the movement to push Congress to reverse this plan. 

For further information about these efforts, see the following sources:

 

Advancing Economic Inclusion in Southern Cities


In 2015, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, in partnership with PolicyLink, launched Southern Cities for Economic Inclusion, a cohort of seven cities dedicated to advancing economic equity for low-income communities and communities of color. Comprised of city officials and staff, local philanthropy, and business and community partners from Atlanta, Asheville, Charlotte, Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans and Richmond, the group convenes regularly to share best practices and learn from experts. Their next meeting will be in Richmond from October 23-25.

This group explicitly identifies and addresses the unique historical, political, and legal obstacles to achieving economic inclusion in the South; namely, the region’s deeply entrenched legacy of racism and segregation, as well as the structural limitations imposed by state laws that strip cities of the authority to advance economic inclusion policies such as local hiring or inclusive procurement.

Leaders from the seven cities are advancing real solutions by:

  • Establishing an economic agenda that both acknowledges and confronts the legacy of race. City and community leaders in New Orleans and Atlanta have created economic opportunity plans that set a proactive agenda to invest in people of color and others who have been left behind and demonstrate how equity will lead to everyone being better off.  
     
  • Bringing together diverse stakeholders to advance an economic inclusion agenda. In Memphis, Nashville, and elsewhere, anchor institutions such as universities and medical facilities, along with business and other leaders in the private sector, are coming together with city partners to encourage growth in the minority business community and bring new investments into communities without causing displacement. 
     
  • Innovating policies and programs to support minority-owned businesses and connect people to jobs. In Charlotte, Richmond, and Asheville, cities have developed pilot procurement programs and incentives to support minority businesses and to help connect individuals with barriers to employment to good jobs.
     

These projects and initiatives are changing the cultural silence on race in economic development policy and strengthening local positions despite state restrictions on local authority. We applaud these city leaders for their work thus far.  Reaching this point has required creativity in policy design, political deftness, and most of all, resilience.  However, advancing this work will require additional investment and strong partnerships across a wide range of stakeholders, including local and national philanthropy, the private sector, and community-based organizations. We hope you will join us to advance an economically inclusive and prosperous South.

We Are All Dreamers

Turning our backs on young Americans who arrived in this country with family or other adults seeking a better life is morally reprehensible. The Trump Administration’s decision to eliminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program places over 800,000 young people at risk of deportation and separation from their loved ones and reneges on a promise made to those young people by our government.

Yesterday’s action underscores the Administration's pursuit of normalizing racist and xenophobic beliefs through an agenda rooted in the criminalization of people of color. Igniting polarization by race and ethnicity and scapegoating our immigrant brothers and sisters threatens the culture, economy, and security of our nation. Again, we must stand up for the latest target of this hate-filled Administration whose efforts to splinter the nation for the benefit of a cruel minority have no end. We are all DACA children.  

Ending DACA is morally wrong and economically foolish.  For years, PolicyLink has argued that Equity is a moral imperative and the Superior Growth Model.  The diversity of this country is critical to its economic growth and prosperity.  The actions against DACA will negatively impact the economy in ways underscored by recent studies revealing a loss of billions from the national GDP over the next decade and the loss of contributions from thousands of valuable workers and entrepreneurs.   

Young people covered by the DACA program must be protected and the nation’s promise honored.  Now more than ever, we need Congress to act quickly and confirm that Americans of every race and creed are valued, that our government keeps its promises and rejects hate and xenophobia, and that the U.S. is a place that welcomes all who come sharing a democratic vision and valuing freedom, justice, and equity for all.   

Here are a few things you can do to demonstrate your support:  

  1. Call your members of Congress and demand their support for the Dream Act. And, with DACA ending, it's time for Congress to pass a clean version of the bipartisan Dream Act. Use dreamacttoolkit.org to call and urge your member of Congress to stand up for Dreamers.  
  2. Attend a rally: You can locate rallies in your area using Resistance Near Me.   
  3. Show your support online: Raise your voice to support the #DreamAct by tweeting and posting your support for young immigrants. Make it clear that they are #HereToStay. Find sample tweets & hashtags below.

Sample Tweets:

  • Trump decision on #DACA is morally wrong & economically unwise. Congress must stand up 4 young immigrants & America. Protect immigrants now!
     
  • Will Congress pass the Dream Act, which creates a path to citizenship for Dreamers, without using their loved ones as bargaining chips? 1/2
  • Or will they stand idly by and let the president destroy the lives and livelihoods of immigrants? #HeretoStay 2/2
     
  • 800,000+ dreamers are in our workforce. Ending DACA not only disrupts their lives but also their employers, coworkers, patients & more.
     
  • Trump's decision against Dreamers is not the end for immigrants. Congress must do right by them: pass the Dream Act. #HeretoStay
     
  • @HouseGOP @SenateGOP have a choice: side w/ 800,000+ young immigrants and protect them... or uphold Trump's hate agenda? #HeretoStay
     
  • @realDonaldTrump has stripped legal status of young immigrants who make America strong. Congress must right this wrong: pass #DreamAct!
     

White People, Show Us

Over the past several days we have watched in disgust as the progeny from our nation’s despicable past terrorized a city, committed murder, and received tacit approval from the highest level of government. White supremacy has found a home in the White House. The President is determined to perpetuate and maintain the social, political, historical, and institutional domination by White people at the expense of people of color. And in so doing, he is creating an environment that is also too toxic for White America. The White supremacy movement will not vanish until people of good will succeed in atoning for our nation’s past, reconciling, and building a bridge to a just and fair society where ALL are prospering and reaching their full potential.

America is seeing in real-time what the fight for equity looks like. When cultures, structures, and institutions are forced to change, the responses by those comfortable with and benefiting from the status quo are too frequently ugly, distressing, and violent. Equity leaders should not expect anything less. We signed up for this. Consequently, when things are at their worst, we must be at our best – body, mind, and soul. PolicyLink remains optimistic and single-minded in our work. We are standing strong in the face of formidable opposition because equity leaders, especially those on the front lines, are making progress.

We also are standing strong because we are getting a sense that increasing numbers of White people are sick of other White people's racist conduct. We applaud the fact that from the streets, to corporate board rooms, to charitable giving, White people are taking up the work of equity. We hope we live in a country where most White people do not sympathize with White supremacists. If our perceptions are real, we have an opportunity to accelerate the advancement of equity, and we must seize it. While people of color are going to see this fight for equity through to victory, there is a powerful role that White people must play, and this role can no longer be eschewed for safer, transactional expressions of solidarity.

Show yourselves to be true patriots by joining with people of color, believing in the potency of inclusion, and building from a common bond to stamp out White supremacy and realize the transformative promise of equity – the imperfect and unrealized aspiration embodied in the Constitution. White America, you can perfect this aspiration! To do so requires that you honestly and forthrightly call out racism and oppression, both overt and systemic. And while this is a good start, it is insufficient. Your work is to lead the way in designing and implementing equity-centered public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms that trump White supremacy and create a just and fair society. This must be your call to action. This is what people of color need from you.

The normalization of White supremacy must be stopped now before it irreversibly poisons the nation’s culture. Your leadership is critical in this moment. You are best equipped to defeat White supremacy. Here are actions you can take that are transformative.


Show us that our perceptions of a White majority opposed to White supremacy are real. Show us that we have a reason to believe that you will fight with more devotion to create a society that is just and fair for ALL, than White supremacists will in their pursuit to maintain their structural advantage, their racial privilege, their "whiteness." By accepting this invitation, you’re not doing anyone any favors. You’re doing the work necessary to make America all that it can be. History has its eyes on you. Show us. Fight for equity.

With gratitude,

Angela Glover Blackwell
CEO  

Michael McAfee
President

PolicyLink Applauds Court’s Refusal to Reinstate Ban

The 9th Circuit, affirming the Court's right to review the president's action, refused to reinstate the Administration’s travel ban, thus upholding the nation's commitment to just and fair inclusion, at least for now.  Where you come from, where you live, and how—or if—you worship, may not be a basis for exclusion from the country without due process. Anything less, “runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

Today’s win is a small victory in a battle of immense proportions. Savor small victories, even as we gird ourselves for the next fight.

All-In Cities Update: December 12, 2016

In the aftermath of November 8, it is clearer than ever that cities and the counties and metropolitan regions in which they are situated are the crucibles where an inclusive American economy and democracy can and must be forged. From Atlanta to Indianapolis, cities across the country passed ballot measures designed to expand opportunity and dismantle barriers to inclusion. In our hometown of Oakland, the anti-displacement and equitable infrastructure measures we supported won handily. As the All-In Cities team plans for the year ahead, we are look forward to continuing to help local leaders ensure that the cities they love are places where all can thrive and participate in building the next economy. 
 
Building Community Power in the Age of Trump
Following the election, associate director Tracey Ross wrote a piece for Rooflines, the Shelterforce blog, critiquing post-election narratives. She explains, “As the media and national figures continue to tell a story that overlooks how the concerns of people of color may have impacted the election, local leaders must be working to ensure workers of color are empowered to tell their own story.” Check out the full piece here.  
 
Buffalo: Health Equity and Inclusive Growth Profile Launched
With support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, PolicyLink has partnered with Open Buffalo, a community coalition focused on justice and equity in the city of Buffalo, to produce a comprehensive equity profile that can inform policy solutions for health equity, inclusive growth, and a culture of health in the “Queen City.” We kicked off the engagement with a site visit on December 1 that included tours of West Buffalo and the historic Fruit Belt neighborhoods, interviews with community and city leaders, and a review of the initial data. We will be releasing the report and policy agenda in March 2017. 
 
Pittsburgh: Next City Highlights Equitable Development Momentum
Next City covered the progress that has been made since the release of Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh in September. Senior director Sarah Treuhaft discusses the growing momentum among community leaders. “When we started working there, there was definitely not that sense that change was possible,” she explained. “By next year we want to see more of that, and create a sense that change is happening — that it’s not just possible but it’s actually happening and progress is being gained.” You can read the whole article here.
 
New Equitable Growth Data for Cities
The National Equity Atlas, produced in partnership with the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), continues to expand to meet the data needs of those working to advance equitable growth in cities and metros. In October we added new neighborhood-level maps for four indicators, including unemployment and disconnected youth. And in November we updated 17 of our 32 indicators to 2014 five-year pooled data (it was previously the 2012 five-year pooled data).

Learn more about our All-In Cities initiative and sign up for updates at www.allincities.org.

buildings-houses

Introducing New Neighborhood Opportunity Maps

 

We know that opportunity differs by neighborhood, and maps are one way to visualize this variation across a given city, region, or state. That’s why today, we are adding mapping breakdowns to the following four indicators on the National Equity Atlas:

 

These new interactive maps allow you to visualize data by county or by census tract as well as by city, region, or state. You can also toggle back and forth between different years to see how the geography of opportunity has changed over time and create custom maps using an interactive filter and scroller. On the race/ethnicity map, for example, the scroller allows you to visualize measures of opportunity (e.g. homeownership) in relation to neighborhood composition (e.g. the share of the Latino population). And on the disconnected youth and unemployment maps, the scroller allows you to visualize the indicator as neighborhood compositions (e.g. share of the Black or Native American population) vary.

This blog walks you through how to access and use the new maps. Register for our 30-minute webinar on November 2 for a live walk through.

How to find the new maps

To access the new maps for the people of color indicator, click on the Indicators tab in the top navigation bar. Then under the Demographics menu, select “People of color.” You can look at the data by county (the default), by the largest 150 regions, or by state. You can also toggle back and forth between every decade from 1980 to 2040 to see how the share of people of color in the U.S. has changed over time. The GIF below pulls from the new maps to show how the share of people of color has changed from 1980 to 2010 and how it is projected to change by 2040. You can also see the new people of color map on the homepage of the Atlas.

You can filter by White areas, Black areas, Latino areas, etc. in the people of color, unemployment, and disconnected youth maps, and you can also filter by different measures of opportunity in the race/ethnicity map. To get to the race/ethnicity indicator, select Race/ethnicity (also in the Demographics menu).

The default breakdown shows a chart of how the racial/ethnic composition of the country has changed from 1980 to 2010, and how it’s projected to change through 2040. Underneath the graphic display, you’ll see the different breakdowns, the second of which is the “Race and ethnicity map.” The default map is the percent people of color in 2014, but you can also look at the data from 2000. Under the year options, you’ll see the six major race/ethnicity groups and all people of color. If you select “Native American”, for example, you’ll get a map of the percent Native American by county. The darker purple counties represent areas with a Native population larger than 40 percent (see screenshot below).

Using the opportunity filters

The filters located on the bottom right of the page allow you create custom maps based on various measures of opportunity such as homeownership and the share of the population with an associate’s degree or higher. To illustrate how the filters work and how to access data by neighborhood, take the state of Mississippi as an example.

You’ll notice that census tracts are not one of the geography options in the map above. In order to view the data by census tract, you must type in a state, region, or city in the Explore box. After typing in and selecting Mississippi, you get a map of the state by tracts (the default geography at the sub-national level). If you click on “Black”, you get a map of the Black population share. The purple tracts are neighborhoods with a Black population greater than 40 percent. The light blue areas, on the other hand, have a Black population under 10 percent.

To use the filters, first select one, like homeownership, then move the scroller at the bottom to only show areas where the homeownership is at least a given percentage. The overall homeownership rate in Mississippi is 68 percent, but moving the scroller to 68 percent, creates a map of census tracts where the homeownership rate is 68 percent or higher and many of the purple tracts (representing majority Black tracts) in the northwestern part of the state disappear as a result (see maps below). Those tracts that disappear have a homeownership rate less than 68 percent.

Using maps to inform decision-making

These maps can be especially helpful in developing targeted employment or workforce development initiatives. The overall unemployment rate in Mississippi was 10 percent, but this was clearly not the case across all census tracts. Filtering the map by tracts with an unemployment rate of at least 15 percent produces a map with several majority Black tracts. This map can support programs and initiatives through the state workforce investment board by ensuring that resources are targeted to communities that need them most.

Note: While the size (land area) of the census tracts in the state varies widely, each has a roughly similar number of people. A large tract in a more rural part of the state likely contains a similar number of people as a seemingly tiny tract in an urban area. Care should be taken not to pay an unwarranted amount of attention to large tracts just because they are large.

Mississippi has the highest rate of disconnected youth of all states, so understanding how the number and share of disconnected youth varies across the state is central to developing an effective workforce development or education program. To find the map for disconnected youth, select “Disconnected Youth” in Readiness section of the Equity menu. The very last breakdown is the mapping breakdown. As you’ll see in the map below, there are several red census tracts, symbolizing areas where the share of disconnected youth is greater than 20 percent. As you hover over different tracts, you can see both the share and the total number of disconnected youth. In census tract 9504 in Prentiss County, for example, more than 100 young people, or 57 percent of 16 to 19 year olds, were disconnected from both school and work.

The filters and scroller on this map allow you to visualize disconnectedness in relation to neighborhood composition. As you filter to majority White or majority Black neighborhoods, you’ll notice how disconnectedness varies geographically.

For a walk through of the unemployment maps, view our previous blog. For a live walk through of the new maps, register for our webinar. Share your thoughts or questions during the webinar or through our contact form.

This Atlas of Racial Equity Just Keeps Getting Better

Cross-posted from CityLab

How do race and inequality intersect with space? American mapmakers have been trying to answer this question since at least 1895, when a group of reform-minded Chicago women published the Hull-House Maps and Papers. At the height of the Gilded Age, inequality was skyrocketing. Housing and labor conditions among droves of new immigrants were dire.

Putting their faith in data as catalyst for progress, the Chicago reformers meticulously surveyed the ethnicities and wages of industrial workers living in a tenement neighborhood on the Near West Side, and then plotted their findings in vivid color on a set of blank property maps. The result was a groundbreaking visual demonstration of poverty as a product of a person’s spatial context, rather than some damning individual quality—a belief that was commonly held then (as it is now).

Flash-forward 120-plus years, and we’re living in an era some call a second Gilded Age. In fact, income inequality is even worse now than it was then. Mapmakers are still figuring out the best ways to plot disparities across all sorts of measures—jobs and school quality, environmental health, and transportation access, for example—to advocate for policy change. The National Equity Atlas, developed by PolicyLink and the University of Southern California’s Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), might be the best and most comprehensive graphic call for economic equality available today.

Read the full article in CityLab.

The Second Annual p4 Conference Envisions a Just Pittsburgh

The City of Pittsburgh and The Heinz Endowments are spearheading a major effort to forge a new model of urban growth and development that is innovative, inclusive and sustainable.

This model is based around a central, unifying framework — p4: People, Planet, Place, and Performance — and was launched at an international summit in 2015.

p4’s second annual conference will take place on Oct. 18-19, 2016, at Pittsburgh's David L. Lawrence Convention Center. The event will feature a range of national and international experts as well as discussions on all aspects of the p4 framework, and a highlight will be a focus on economic and social equity — the framework’s People strategies — during the second day of the summit.

PolicyLink CEO Angela Glover Blackwell will be a featured speaker on Day One of the summit, speaking on the topic “People – Advancing the Just and Sustainable City.” On Day Two, PolicyLink Senior Director Sarah Treuhaft will be discussing the recommendations of the recently released Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh.

In advance of the conference, Pittsburgh and The Heinz Endowments have released this powerful new video framing the summit and the issues facing the future of the city:

p4 Pittsburgh 2016

Visit www.p4pittsburgh.org to learn more.

September National Equity Atlas Update

The Atlas is announcing the beta version of a new feature that highlights the equity movement on-the-ground:
 
Preview neighborhood-level mapping added to the Atlas
Today, we released the beta version of new interactive neighborhood-level mapping on the Atlas. These new maps allow users to understand how selected indicators (e.g., unemployment) vary across neighborhoods within a city or region, and can help inform targeted employment and workforce development initiatives as well as infrastructure investments. This beta release features county and census-tract level maps of the unemployment indicator. Register for our special preview of the maps on October 6 specifically for Atlas subscribers and share your feedback ahead of the public release next month.
 
Welcoming America webinar
Welcoming America helps communities across the country achieve prosperity by becoming more welcoming toward immigrants and all residents. On October 7 the National Equity Atlas will be featured in a webinar on eelcoming and economic development. Participants will examine selected economic indicators on the Atlas to get a sense of how immigrants are faring in their communities. Angel Ross, Research Associate at PolicyLink and Justin Scoggins, Data Manager at the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) are featured speakers. Register here.
 
Forward Community Investments webinar
Last week, the National Equity Atlas kicked off the Forward Community Investments 2016-2017 Racial Equity Webinar Series. The goal of this series is to provide FCI partners with tools and approaches that can be used to advance social, racial, and economic equity and inclusion within their work. The webinar provided an overview of the Atlas framework and a walk through of the Atlas, focusing specifically on Wisconsin.

New Report Makes Case for Equity in Metro Atlanta
A new report from the Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE), Growing the Future: The Case for Economic Inclusion in Metro Atlanta, describes how equity is both a moral and economic imperative for the Atlanta region and for the nation as a whole. The report highlights our full employment analysis and GDP with racial equity analysis, both of which underscore how eliminating racial inequities results in “equity dividends” for the broader economy. See our short post about the report here.

New “Chart of the Week” series
We've launched a new "Chart of the Week" series to add equity data about growth and prosperity to the national dialogue. Every week, we post a new chart drawing from the Equity Atlas related to current events and issues. Our inaugural post lifted up #BlackWomensEqualPay and looked at median wages for Black women in Atlanta, Georgia. We also shared charts highlighting the #Fightfor15, #NoDAPL, and the most recent Census report. Follow our posts on social media using #equitydata, #Fightfor15, and #NoDAPL and in our Data in Action section.

Beyond Affordable Housing: Creating Opportunities in Every Community

Cross-posted from Living Cities: This blog post is part of the Living Cities series “Closing the Racial Gaps: Together We Can” which highlights efforts across the United States that show promise for closing racial opportunity gaps and creating a more equitable future.

Nearly 30 years ago I attended a community development conference focused on replacing decrepit housing in poor, mostly black, inner-city neighborhoods with attractive, affordable dwellings. The leaders in the room saw housing rehabilitation and new construction as the way to revitalize poor communities and improve the lives of the people who lived there. I was uncomfortable with the discussion and began asking: Why would community developers build housing in communities cut off from good schools, jobs, transportation, parks—the resources that people need to thrive and succeed? Is better housing the answer to inequality and injustice?

When I raised these issues, the response was not positive, but more like: “Who let her in?” And it was not just the mostly white community development leaders who pushed back. Black leaders and residents resisted my questioning the efficacy of focusing on rebuilding housing in severely depressed neighborhoods as the way to improve life outcomes. I decided to educate myself more about community development and find a better way to express my concern.

Read the full post on the Living Cities website>>>

All-In Cities: Building Momentum in Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Detroit, and Indianapolis

 

As America’s cities experience a comeback, city leaders need to implement bold strategies to ensure no one is left behind or displaced. All should have the opportunity to contribute to building new urban economies that are equitable, sustainable, and prosperous. Through the All-In Cities initiative, PolicyLink empowers city officials, community advocates, and other civic leaders with the policy ideas, data, and hands-on assistance to make racial economic inclusion and equitable growth their reality. We’ve had an exciting week full of milestones:

Pittsburgh: Equitable Development

Today, more than one hundred community leaders gathered at the August Wilson Center in Pittsburgh for the release of Equitable Development: The Path to an All-In Pittsburgh, produced in partnership with Neighborhood Allies and Urban Innovation21. Mayor William Peduto, City Council Member Daniel Lavelle, and other leaders from government, business, and the nonprofit sector discussed the recommendations. Follow the conversation on social media at #AllInPittsburgh

Indianapolis: Equitable Innovation Economies

Since 2014, New York, Indianapolis, Portland and San Jose have been piloting new approaches to advancing equity in innovation and manufacturing through the Equitable Innovation Economies Initiative, a multi-year project led by the Pratt Center for Community Development in collaboration with PolicyLink and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance (UMA). Yesterday at the UMA national convening in Indianapolis, we released a new report, Prototyping Equity: Local strategies for a more inclusive innovation economydocumenting the groundbreaking efforts of these cities. Join the conversation at #proequity.

New Orleans: #EquityNewOrleans

PolicyLink is advising the city of New Orleans in the development of its citywide equity strategy. On Tuesday, September 13, the city held its second community listening session to discuss how the city can integrate racial equity throughout its activities. Learn about the initiative at www.equityneworleans.org and participate at #EquityNewOrleans
 

Detroit: New Economy Initiative Impact 

On Wednesday, September 14, the New Economy Initiative released a report highlighting its impact. Since 2007, the unique funder collaborative has helped build an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Detroit, providing direct support to over 4,400 companies, helping launch more than 1,600 new companies (39 percent of them owned by people of color and 32 percent by women), and creating more than 17,000 jobs. PolicyLink has advised the initiative on its equity strategy since 2009.

Learn more about our All-In Cities initiative and sign up for updates at www.allincities.org.

  

Gender and Racial Pay Gaps Stifle Local and Regional Economies

Cross-posted from the Toronto Star

Though they make up nearly half of the workforce in the U.S. and Canada, women — and women of colour in particular — continue to be marginalized in labor markets. Women make significantly less than men of similar experience and education, are vastly overrepresented in low-wage work, and are underrepresented in management — these are not just civil rights issues, they are fundamental failures within the labor market that are holding back economic growth for cities, regions, and entire nations.

When my mother, a young journalist, moved us from her home town of Montreal to New Jersey in the early 1950s, soon after I was born, she was looking for relatively better opportunities to advance in her profession as a woman, and the grass at least appeared to be greener in the States at the time. It did not necessarily turn out to be the case, and both countries still have a long way to go, but there are also promising changes in attitudes and concrete policy steps being taken on both sides of the border, as the imperative for justice intersects in new ways with strong economic incentives for inclusion and fairness.

Urban and regional economies -- in both the public and private sector — have a stake in seeing gender and racial pay gaps decline. As a group, women in the U.S. and Canada are more educated than their male peers and they are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs, with women of colour leading the growth in small-business ownership in the U.S. This, in part, is why many local leaders are doubling down on efforts to address inequities in the workplace, seeking to capitalize on the often underappreciated talent and potential that women in the workforce bring to the table. For example, under the leadership of former Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston sought to become the “premier city for working women”, and current Mayor Marty Walsh recently pledged to become the first U.S. city to eliminate the gender pay gap entirely. Boston is home to the largest proportion of young women between age 20 and 34 — and the highest percentage of college educated women — of any major U.S. city, making the economic opportunity of its young women top priority for local leaders. To close the remaining 18-cent pay gap in the city, Mayor Walsh is leading the charge to educate businesses on the economic importance of closing the gender pay gap. One particular business-focused effort, 100% Talent, is a first-of-its-kind initiative that has enlisted 100 companies to voluntarily pledge to help close the gender gap by sharing payroll data (including metrics on gender and race), implementing recommended practices to reduce pay inequities, and participating in biennial reviews to discuss their progress. The Mayor has also spearheaded a $1.5 million project called Work Smart in Boston, which will provide 90,000 women with salary and benefits negotiation training over the next 5 years.

On the opposite coast, in a city home to the largest gender pay gap among major U.S. cities -- local government in Seattle, Washington is taking inspiration from Boston’s example. After a 2013 analysis found that women in the Seattle metropolitan area were earning 73 percent of what men make, with women of colour earning anywhere from 49 to 60 percent, then-Mayor McGinn’s office convened the City of Seattle’s Gender Equity in Pay Task Force, which has led the city to pass a resolution in 2014 calling on several cities departments, including the Personnel Department, Seattle Office of Civil Rights, and the Mayor’s Office, to promote progressive policies in hiring, pay, and benefits that specifically target both gender and racial inequities. Within the private sector, the city’s Chamber of Commerce and the Women’s Funding Alliance launched their own 100% Talent in 2015 whereby businesses will be obligated to identify internal gender equity issues, share lessons learned with other employers, and implement at least three of the 33 best practices identified by the initiative, including flexible scheduling, greater wage transparency, and increased diversity in hiring practices.

Though these efforts are still in their early stages, these leaders are proving that they understand the crucial opportunity facing cities and regions today: the places that will thrive the most in the 21st century economy will be those that embrace inclusion and capitalize on the talent, creativity, and potential of all residents — especially those who have too often been left behind. This dedication to inclusion is at the heart of All-In Cities — an initiative to promote inclusion and equitable growth in cities launched this year by my organization, PolicyLink.

Like the recommendations made by the 100% Talent initiatives above, All-In Cities seeks to support policymakers and businesses within metropolitan areas to foster comprehensive economic and racial inclusion. For gender and racial inequality in the workplace, this means looking beyond the pay gap to the very structure of the labor market — asking not only, how can we lift stifled wages for women, but how can we build work environments that are conducive to the needs of the ever-growing segment of female workers and their families.

In addition to reevaluating wage, hiring, and scheduling practices as mentioned above, this means policymakers and businesses should foster female entrepreneurship and leadership within organizations. They should promote women’s education and recruitment within high-paying fields — such as math, science, and technology — where they are historically underrepresented. Employers should offer paid family leave and sick leave, so that working mothers do not have to choose between a paycheck and taking care of a sick child.

Overcoming an issue as stubborn as the pay gap will require widespread cultural shifts — in classrooms, in boardrooms, in local councils and halls of parliament —but the rewards we will reap in justice and prosperity are well worth the effort. Advocates for equality from an earlier time, like my mother, would have appreciated how much the ground has shifted.

Read the full article in the Toronto Star (page 2).

Power Your Advocacy with New Equity Data

Clean air and high-quality schools are fundamental elements of “communities of opportunity” that allow residents to thrive. Last week, the National Equity Atlas, produced jointly by PolicyLink and the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE), added three new opportunity indicators to equip local leaders with relevant data to build equitable cities and regions:

 

The National Equity Atlas team was proud to participate in the “The Opportunity Project,” an Open Opportunity Data event held yesterday at the White House where the new Atlas indicators were showcased. The White House effort focuses on facilitating the development of a suite of digital tools that puts neighborhood-level information on access to opportunity at the fingertips of families, community organizers, non-profits, local leaders, and the media.
 
Writing in a letter to the editor published in the New York Times, on March 7, PolicyLink President and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell noted the importance of disaggregating data by race and ethnicity is critical to understanding trends and developing solutions: “Recognizing this ‘people’ dimension of poor neighborhoods — and the complex interplay of race and place — is essential for catalyzing equitable and sustainable economic prosperity for all.”
 
School Poverty Data Highlighted in The Atlantic
The Atlantic is already demonstrating the analytical power of this new data. Abigail Langston and Sarah Treuhaft from PolicyLink are quoted in “The Concentration of Poverty in American Schools,” by Janie Boschma and Ronald Brownstein, who note that in about half of the nation’s largest 100 cities, most Black and Latino students go to schools where at least 75 percent of all students qualify as poor or low-income:
 
“Kids who spend more than half of their childhood in poverty have a high-school graduation rate of 68 percent,” said Abigail Langston, a senior associate at PolicyLink, and a public fellow at the American Council of Learned Societies. “You see how these things compound over time. There is a link between housing policy, economic and racial segregation, you see what those do to schools and to people who grow up in those neighborhoods.”
 
In the article, promising school integration models from Dallas and New York City are lifted up as tools to address these gaps. The Atlantic also uses the National Equity Atlas’s school poverty indicator in the stories “Separate and Still Unequal” and “Where Children Rarely Escape Poverty.”
 
Join upcoming Equitable Development and Environmental Justice Webinar
On Friday, March 11 the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice will conduct the free webinar “New Data Tools for Supporting Analysis of Equitable Development and Environmental Justice.” Sarah Treuhaft, who is PolicyLink director of equitable growth initiatives will present the new air pollution indicators in the National Equity Atlas. The webinar will also feature a demo of the new environmental justice screening and mapping tool. Register here

Equity Speaks: A conversation with Steve Phillips and Angela Glover Blackwell

The dramatic growth of communities of color has laid the foundation for a new progressive American majority with the potential to transform the nation’s politics, policies, and economy, says author, lawyer, and political activist Steve Phillips.

The key is for progressive leaders to recognize and respond to this extraordinary moment in history. But for the most part, they have not, Phillips argues in his new book, Brown Is the New White. Drawing on extensive demographic and electoral data, Phillips shows why it’s mathematically wrong and politically perilous to chase White swing voters by toning down a progressive message. Rather, progressives will win elections by fielding candidates who have strong roots in communities of color; talk forthrightly about issues of race; and embrace an agenda focused on equity, economic inclusion, and opportunity for all. Phillips spoke with PolicyLink President and CEO Angela Glover Blackwell.

Listen to the extended interview below:

Read an excerpt of the interview below:

Angela Glover Blackwell: At PolicyLink, we’ve been saying for a while that with shifting demographics, getting the economic agenda right for people of color is going to get it right for the nation — that equity is the superior growth model. Your book reinforces this. Describe the political opportunity and the economic opportunity you see in this moment in America.

Steve Phillips: For a long time, the assumption around what policy should be and who it should target has been constrained by fears of the role of the conservative/moderate White swing voters. Throughout history, there have been progressive White leaders who tried to move forward a more equitable agenda but they always tempered it — from Thomas Jefferson trying to include references to slavery in the Declaration of Independence, to Lincoln trying to ameliorate fears during his campaigns that he would be too pro-Black, to Kennedy. And up to Obama. I believe they thought they were going as far as they could go and still be politically viable. But over the past 50 years, since the Voting Rights Act and the Immigration Reform Act, the numbers of people of color have become large. Those numbers, combined with progressive Whites who want to see a just and inclusive society, are, in fact, the majority. You can now stand for justice and equality and win. And you don’t have to worry any more that a policy agenda focused on justice and equality does not have majority support because, in fact, it does.

AGB: This new American majority has already achieved important victories. Although conservatives control the Congress, progressives — voters of color and White voters together — have elected progressive leaders in several states, and we see a city leadership across the country reflecting a progressive agenda. What are the takeaways in these victories for progressive candidates and their relationship with communities of color?

SP: First, we need people who will be champions of justice and champions of equality. Too frequently, people lead with caution and timidity and try not to alienate the more conservative, so-called swing voters. It’s a downward spiral. Not only do they fail to win those people over, but they also fail to inspire people who are most at risk in our society to come out and participate. Second, we need candidates who come out of communities of color. This is not just a question of identity politics. When a group has been exploited, marginalized, and oppressed for many years and someone comes out of that experience, you feel they understand your circumstance. You're more motivated to put that kind of person in office. That would be democracy as you see it — a leader who reflects your lived experience.

AGB: You're describing what so many of us have seen. But many progressives have been blind to the political potential of the rapidly growing communities of color. You take progressive leaders and funders to task for this. Why do you think they have failed to recognize the power of this remarkable demographic shift?

SP: At the highest level, there’s a history in this country of ignoring and diminishing people of color and their experience. Simultaneously, there’s been a celebration of White people, Whiteness, White intelligence. Even people who are progressives don’t realize the extent to which those biases play out in everything from hiring to policy decisions. I also think that those of us on the progressive side have to better explain that the path that we’re talking about is actually the path to victory. The incontrovertible record at the national level of the past eight years is that when we have put forward a candidate who comes from the communities of color and inspires the communities of color, we have won.

AGB: True! You also point out that an agenda that advances economic equity is a way to win elections. What are some of the policy changes that you believe really get at this agenda?

SP: The focus on minimum wage increases and the campaigns around the country have been interesting in that they have been very successful in lots of different states. It shows that there is agreement, even among sectors of more moderate White swing voters. Now issues around income inequality have become central to the popular debate. It is the source, I think, of a lot of the support and enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders. The next level is to actually go after the wealth inequality in the country. I don’t think we’ve done that sufficiently within the policy-debate realm. That’s when you begin to get at some really significant and potentially transformative approaches.

AGB: In the book you describe how several community organizations are successfully harnessing and channeling political energies from communities of color. What lessons can we extract about what these groups do and the attributes they bring to the work?

SP: California Calls, led by Anthony Thigpen out of Los Angeles, is the gold standard for this work. Anthony has built up an operation and a voter list from around 50,000 people to over half a million people by having a year-round program that is directly connected to the community organizations and the worker organizations that are in touch with and respected by the people of the local community. Groups that do immigrant service or work with domestic violence victims, labor unions who represent workers in those communities — those are the points of contact with voters. The genius of the model is in translating respect, trust, and familiarity into a voter mobilization operation. Building an electoral program on community-based organizations and leaders is far more effective than just running 30-second television ads.

AGB: You know, our demographics will continue to shift — nothing can stop that. Yet it is important for progressives to not sit on their laurels and think that demography is destiny. It depends on what you do with it. You point out in your book that conservatives are doing fairly well at identifying and backing candidates of color. What lessons can progressives learn from this?

SP: When you put your mind to it, you can do it!

AGB: Absolutely — race matters, race matters, race matters! I love how you end the book. You make it clear this is not just about the mathematical calculations of political campaigns; it’s really about the enduring legacy and centrality of race in American life. How do you move the nation to recognize that race matters? And how do we get people comfortable with embracing the idea that achieving a racial equity agenda is good politics, it’s good economics, and it’s good for the future?

SP: One of the things that’s not appreciated is that being forceful, forthright, and unapologetic around racial justice within this country will actually attract a number of progressive Whites to you. That was the subtext of Obama's election. It’s why there was great hope and meaning tied up in his election. I believe you can attract more Whites than people realize by offering a hopeful and inspiring vision that we’ll finally redress the history of racism within the country and the contemporary reality of racism. We can enlist a whole multiracial army of people to change the country. And that army will be a majority of the people.